This is my story; I was adopted before I was even a month old from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I never thought anything bad about being adopted until I started school. I would wake up, brush my teeth, get dressed, style my hair, eat breakfast, and then get a ride to school. But when I got there, I just wanted to run far, far away, even though I was only 6 years old. The kids at school called me names because I didn’t look the same as them, and because I looked nothing like my mom. Everyday was the same. Now when you’re little, you don’t have the ability to tell yourself “Turn the other cheek,” or “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” So instead of staying strong, I felt sorry for myself and cried. I would love to tell you tat during elementary school, or even high school, that the bullying stopped, but I’d be lying. I was in grade seven when the bullying hit its extreme. My mom saw changes in my attitude towards school, my way of looking at life, but worst of all, my respect towards my family.

My mom was struggling to help me, because I was telling her that I didn’t want or need any help, when I really did. My mom was trying almost everything, but none it worked. Almost everyone in my life knew something was wrong. My mom was talking to a friend about how life was getting harder for me, and they suggested ‘Big Sisters’ to her. When my mom brought it up to me, I was nervous and a little against it. I mean, it would mean I would HAVE to open up to someone as well as my mom. But at the same time it sounded like it would be different and fun, so I agreed to it. I had one condition though; my big sister had to have been bullied when she was in school, so she could relate to me. My mom agreed. After those few nerve-racking weeks of waiting, I was matched to an amazing, open-minded lawyer who started to change my bad attitude just by sitting next to me.

Christina is a funny, always laughing woman, who seemed just as nervous as me when we first met. Even though I didn’t know her at all, I sensed that her flowing vibe could loosen mine. We were matched, but I didn’t know what to expect. But after a little bit of time I opened up to her. That was the moment Christina began to be my “Big Sister.” We have been matched for just over two years, and we have a strong, great friendship. We have done lots of amazing and interesting things together, like some of the Big Sisters events we’ve attended include, watching a Canuck’s hockey game in a “box,” and going sailing. We also just hang out together and do stuffat her house,like playing board games, cooking awesome food (the sushi making was the best), and making a cool home-made video for my homework, that’s been splashed all over YouTube. But even though all of this is fun and special, I would love doing absolutely anything with Christina as long as I had her company.

I feel like Big Sisters has changed me – I’m more confident about myself than ever before, and my self-esteem is through the roof- at times. And even though my life at school can still be rough and the bullying still continues, my attitude towards it has changed throughout these three years. Instead of feeling sorry for myself and thinking the world must hate me, Christina has shown me that putting a little more effort into the things that really count in life can conquer all the things and events that are trying to stop me from being who I am. And I believe being who you are is just a treasure in itself. I believe all these positive reactions are inspired by the help and guidance of Christina. (Thank you sis). And thank you all for your support of Big Sisters.

Little Sister Shupri, age 14 ­Gala Speech.